Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Help Needed

Yesterday Dr. Helen Smith remarked on an interesting irony. Our government has just put out a bulletin advising people on how to deal with the stress that it is fostering.

Link to Dr. Helen's blog.
Link to government advisory bulletin.
And, for an extra treat, the comments of Fausta Wertz. Link here.

Dr. Smith's point may not be self-evident, but it is still true. When political leadership is incoherent, it does not merely undermine investor confidence. It undermines everyone's confidence, and thus, produces stress.

To reuse one of my old metaphors, when your ship has hit an iceberg and is taking on water, you are not going to feel less stressed because Captain Clueless has decided to get a massage.

But the news is not all bad. Most of the government's advice is sound.

If you are under stress because of the current economic conditions the government advises you to keep things in balance. Find both the good and the bad in the situation.

It also advises you to start or continue an exercise program, and to work on cultivating social connections. These are both great ideas, more easily said than done.

Finally, if you are involved in an industry that does not offer many opportunities for future employment, you should set out to develop new skills.

This is all good advice. The government is telling you to attack the problem, not yourself.

Naturally, it adds that if your emotions are getting the better of you, you should seek counseling.

It does not say what to look for in a counselor, so I will offer some of my own advice.

First, you need to connect with the person.

Second, the counselor needs to be conversant with current economic realities.

To be more specific, you should avoid counselors who want the problem to be all about you. You do not want a counselor who keeps asking you how it all makes you feel.

And you do not need a counselor who seems to think that it's all about your needs.

Most importantly, you are not going to be able to deal with real problems unless you find a counselor who is willing to focus on them and who has some understanding of what is going on in the world.

Some counselors cover up their inability to deal with reality by making everything a function of your emotions. Such counselors should be avoided.

If you are having trouble dealing with the current crisis, the reason is that the current crisis is extremely difficult to deal with. Any counselor who tries to convince you otherwise is not doing you a service.

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